Monthly Economic Indicators

Monthly Economic Indicators

The Chamber’s Data and Research team tracks key statistics highlighting the Detroit region’s economic growth and recovery.

Michigan and US Indicators

Monthly Unemployment Rate

Michigan’s March 2022 monthly unemployment rate decreased 0.8 percentage points to 4.5%. The Detroit MSA’s unemployment rate decreased 0.1 percentage points to 5.0% in February 2022. The national unemployment decreased to 3.6% in March, placing Michigan’s unemployment rate 0.9 percentage points above the nation.

For context, Michigan’s peak unemployment rate during the Great Recession reached 15.4% in July 2009. This measurement is considered a lagging indicator, confirming but not foreshadowing long-term market trends. It’s seen as an indicator of the efficiency and effectiveness of an economy.

U.S. Real Gross Domestic Product

Real gross domestic product (GDP) increased at an annual rate of 6.9 percent in the fourth quarter of 2021, following an increase of 2.3% in the third quarter. According to the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA), the increase in real GDP primarily reflected increases in private inventory investment, exports, PCE, and nonresidential fixed investment that were partly offset by decreases in both federal and state and local government spending. For more information, read the full BEA report.

The GDP is measured as the total market value of the goods and services produced within a specific geography during a given time period. Gross domestic product is a key indicator of the general health of the economy and its performance, with increases indicative of economic growth.

Payroll Jobs

The Detroit MSA’s monthly payroll jobs increased by 4,200 to 1,995,800 in March 2022, after a decrease by over 500,000 in April 2020 – the lowest level since prior to 1990. The previous largest monthly job cut since 1990 occurred in 2009, with a seasonally adjusted reduction of 61,400 jobs.

Industry sectors across the region experienced major job losses due to pandemic related shutdowns. In the region, manufacturing increased to 250,300 employed individuals in March 2022, an 84% increase from the March 2020 low of 135,900. The leisure and hospitality industry is struggling to recover to pre-pandemic employment levels. As of March 2022, the industry employs 169,500 individuals in the region, a 10% decrease compared to March 2020.

New Business Applications

In Michigan, new business applications have totaled over 53,500 year to date. Business applications for April 2022, were 16,240 an increase of 26% compared to March 2022.

New business application growth after a recession is a leading indicator of recovery, and often observed after times of economic hardship. Michigan business applications hit record highs in 2021. Michigan ranked 11th in most business startups among all 50 states in 2021. Michigan business applications totaled 151,270 for 2021, a 59% increase compared to pre-pandemic levels in 2019, indicating strong entrepreneurial activity. More than 56,550 additional applications were filed in 2021 compared to 2019.

Consumer Sentiment

According to the University of Michigan Surveys of Consumers, consumer sentiment fell to 59.4 in the March 2022 survey, down from 62.8 in February and 84.9 last March—a 30% decline from last year. The Consumer Sentiment Index is a statistical measurement that provides an economic indicator of consumers opinion and optimism of the state of the economy.

According to Surveys of Consumers chief economist, Richard Curtin, consumer sentiment declined in March due to falling inflation-adjusted incomes, which was recently accelerated by rising fuel prices. Consumers also held very negative prospects for the economy, with the sole exception of the job market. Consumers were slightly more likely to anticipate declines rather than increases in the national unemployment rate. Curtin’s analysis indicates job market strength will maintain consumer spending at moderate levels through late 2022. Read full report.

U.S. Manufacturing PMI®

Manufacturing PMI® registered at 55.4% in April 2022. April PMI® indicates expansion in the overall economy for the 23rd month in a row.

The Manufacturing PMI® registered at 55.4% a decreased of 1.7 percentage points from the March reading of 57.1% according to the Institute for Supply Management® (ISM®). According to the Institute, the PMI® figure indicates expansion in the overall economy for the 23rd month in a row after contraction in April 2020.

A PMI® value above 42.8%, over a period generally indicates an expansion of the overall economy. ISM® states a reading above 50% shows that the manufacturing economy is generally expanding; below 50% indicates that it is generally contracting. The index is based on a monthly survey of supply chain managers and measures general direction of economic trends in manufacturing and other sectors.

Detroit Metropolitan Airport Total Passengers

Detroit Metropolitan Airport experienced a 66.5% increase in total passengers in the month of February 2022 compared to the same month last year. In February 2022, 1.7 million passengers utilized the airport. Cargo volumes increased 12.5% year over year for the month of February 2022. Over 29 million pounds cargo were handled by the airport in February 2022.

Detroit Metropolitan Airport (DTW) is Michigan’s largest airport and one of the world’s leading air transportation hubs with more than 1,100 flights per day to and from four continents. Wayne County Airport Authority drives economic activity in the Detroit region, employing more than 86,000 individuals with an annual economic impact of $10.2 billion.

Automotive Economic Indicators

Annual U.S. Light Vehicle Sales (SAAR)

At the beginning of 2020, approximately 16.9 million light vehicle units were anticipated to be sold in the United States for the year.

In April 2022, the seasonally adjusted annual rate (SAAR) increased to approximately 14.2 million light vehicle units, from 13.4 million units in March 2022, according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis. The ongoing chip shortage is not yet finished, but has eased substantially since its peak. April’s sales pace has increased 6.4 million units since the manufacturing shutdown in April 2020. According to Cox Automotive, U.S. light-vehicle sales are expected to reach 15.3 million this year, down 700,000 units from the original forecast from January.

Monthly U.S. Light Vehicle Sales

In April 2020, light vehicles sales in the United States experienced the lowest total since early 2010, selling 717,578 units. A decline in sales began in March 2020 with 994,707 units sold, but April was the first full month with widespread manufacturing shutdowns following the stay-at-home orders and closure of nonessential businesses. When comparing April 2019 to April 2020, sales decreased by 85% year over year. Since the reopening of manufacturing, vehicle sales increased to 1.2 million units sold in April 2022.

U.S. Automotive Production

In March 2022, U.S. auto production increased to 144,400 units—a 19% increase from the previous month. Production dramatically decreased to 1,700 in April 2020 due to pandemic restrictions. Followed by the global microchip shortage coming out of the pandemic drastically reduced production, leading to low inventories on dealer lots and lower sales volumes, shortages are not yet finished but production has begun to rebound.

Research & Data

Learn about the region’s economics, workforce and talent, industry clusters and more.

For additional information, contact the Data and Research team.

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